Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Liitle Further North to The Caves

Our day started with a quick return to Emu Park where I grabbed some Ventolin puffers (the humidity was starting to tell on my breathing) and also spent a few minutes mobilising the Brisbane chapter of the Waratahs Mafia to support a mate who has unfortunately entered his last months. Meanwhile, Sue had a lovely chat with an old gentleman who shared his life story. Believe it or not, we both cherish such encounters.

The drive to Yeppoon was via the Capricorn Beaches loop and what wonderful sights we saw. Small beaches which looped between points dominated by tall bluffs, crystal water breaking on the shore and big lumps of islands, some close enough for a young man to row to. It was almost surreal.

Morning tea was taken by a small water inlet on the southern edge of Yeppoon, where road signage asked drivers to be cautious of Osprey chick who were learning to fly. Somewhat different to the "cattle ahead" signs we have become accustomed to in north western NSW.

After morning tea, we drove north to Byfield - an extremely small village consisting principally of a shop/cafe/post office/petrol station and a state school and also the home of Nob Creek Pottery. Established in 1979 when Stephen Bishopric and Sue McBurnie purchased the property and ran it as an orchard for seven years whilst the pottery business was established. This involved selling at market days and establishing the brand through astute use of the media and placement of information in tourist information centres and accommodation outlets.

Nob Creek Pottery
Nob Creek Pottery now sells the product of potters from all over Australia (many of whom we have met in our travels) and also potters from Asia. We met and talked with their son and watched him finish some handles on casseroles and found out about a new stonewear clay - well, new for Sue. There were many things we desired but we settled fairly quickly on an eye catching set of wine goblets made in Korea by slip casting from Steve's original shape. They have a black exterior with a plain fern motif and a red interior. Just exquisite. We had them shipped to home.

Lunch was a the Byfield entertainment and fuel enhancement centre and then we went back to Yeppoon for groceries. What an easy task it is to locate Woollies with an Internet connection on my mobile phone and the GPS.

With the larder restocked, we drove inland for The Capricorn Caves. Located just 29 kilometres north of Rockampton, and just a short detour off the Bruce Highway, The Caves is an ideal tourist destination with its attached caravan park. Discovered by by John Olsen in 1882 when the land was otherwise spoken for, he kept returning and exploring the caves until he was able to purchase the land. Requiring an approval by the Dept of Lands before he could seal the purchase, he bought the lands inspector to the location on a "stinking hot day" and led him this way and that until he was about to show him the caves. Exhausted, the inspector approved the purchase rather than see any more on the day!

The Olsen family then held The Caves as a private enterprise for four generations before finally selling the property to a school teacher who has developed programs for schools. The main tour of the Cathedral Cave is a leisurely stroll through a largely above ground - above ground in that you don't descend far below the level of the entry point - very airy and all of the spaces are comfortable to be in if smallness of space can be a problem for you. Our guide, Jan, was most interesting with lots of history and geology at her fingertips. I've seen more spectacular limestone cave effects in other caves - Margaret River Caves for instance - but this was a very enjoyable experience. Weddings are conducted regularly in the Cathedral Cave, part of the tour we experience. It has outstanding acoustic qualities and whilst Jan sought to entertain us with Enya, I would have preferred Chris Langston supported by brother Sam on bass and Jimi Craz on lead. Other caving experiences include a geological cave experience and an adventure cave experience, very popular with school children.

We pitched home in the attached caravan park and settled in for a few red wines to the sound of biscuits breaking around cheese.

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